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TRAIN ADVENTURES ON A COUCH

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I watched my cousin’s two-year-old son, play with a train set the other day.

“Does the baby like trains?”, I asked, a bit curious.

“Yes,” she said, “He likes Thomas the tank engine!”

“Thomas?” I sighed reeling in nostalgia.

When Sid was two, a curious little incident happened. My parents had taken him for a walk when an Arab lady stopped by in her car. She pulled out a hundred dirhams and handed it to my dad. My dad, all confused and scared didn’t accept it. But, she insisted. A passerby explained to my dad that the money was a gift to the baby. My dad, unable to deny, accepted the gift, thanked her profusely and got home with a hundred dirhams in hand.

“Why would you accept money from a stranger,” I asked a bit upset

“The lady meant it as a gift for Sid,” my dad defended. “We should use it to buy something for him,” he said emphatically.

“It is not like we don’t have money,” I muttered and the thought bothered me for the rest of the day.

My dad seemed very pleased with this bizarre incident. “We should use it wisely,” he went on, much to my chagrin.

That weekend, we decided to give into my dad’s excitement. “Let us buy a blackboard,” I suggested. “At least, he will stop using the walls.”

“Let us buy a study table,” my husband offered. “Sid can use it once he starts school.”

Dad was quiet till we landed at the toy store.

We all wondered about what we thought best. But, dad’s eyes had settled on a big box. “This is perfect,” he declared.

“This?” I asked, unsure, before picking it up.

“Yes,” he was adamant.

A blue rectangular box with a smiling face staring back at us.

“You can’t be serious,” I protested.

“Why not give it a try? Besides, the lady wanted Sid to have fun,” he seemed convinced.

My husband and I read the contents in the box — a blue tank engine, a few blue train tracks, a railway station, a signal pole, and a plastic tunnel.

“Thomas the Tank engine,” I exclaimed.

“Never heard of that,” my husband said.

But, we brought home Thomas the Tank Engine. The rest, like they say, is history. Sid spent every waking hour with his engine set. He chugged like a tiny engine when we went for walks and he would ask us to pretend like the coaches he pulled along. Many times, he sat at the edge of the bed imagining to drive a train and took me along. I went on many train adventures sitting on a couch or on the floor and the joy it brought us has been immeasurable. As he grew older, his love for trains has increased many folds. To this day, Sid wonders what it would be like to drive a train on rails. Today, as I watch the little engine, I cannot help but wonder, what turn life would have taken us on if we had bought a piece of furniture or a black board with that Dh100.

I will never know this good Samaritan, who gifted a little baby one hundred dirhams. She will never know what joy it has brought to us all, but I am sure, of one thing — she must have loved my son to have given that money because, when, something is given with love and in good faith, it can only bring more love. As for me, I am thankful to dad too. Perhaps, it was vested interest (he too is notorious for his obsession with trains) but, it has surely instilled a love for trains in Sid. And, I just hope and pray, that, that Arab lady, has boundless joys because, a person unknown to her, prays that she does.

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